Reconstituting the Family Torończyk/Toruńczyk/Thorner

by Fay Bussgang

I grew up not knowing much about the family of my father, as his only relative in the U.S. that I knew was his sister, my beloved Aunt Goldie. I was only vaguely aware that my father also had a first cousin in London who had survived the war. When I went to Europe in 1954, I met  this cousin, Rose Torończyk Simmons, her husband, and their son, Jack. Rose had a sister in Israel, but all other Torończyks, so far as we knew, had been wiped out in the Holocaust.

In the 1990s, my Polish-born husband, Julian, and I spent considerable time in Poland, where he was a volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), and I began doing research on my father’s family, both the Bursztajns, his father’s side, and the Torończyks, his mother’s side.

In 1993, we took our second trip to the Włoclawek archives to see if we could find my grandmother Torończyk’s birth record. We had just seen in a document in Łódź that her brother had been born in Nieszawa, so we thought perhaps she had been also, and the Nieszawa records were in the Włocławek archive. We found lots of records for related Torończyks in the Nieszawa vital records but none for her immediate family. Among the records for other Torończyks, we saw a record for the 1861 marriage of a Hersz Torończyk, born in 1841. I dutifully copied down the main facts about the marriage and the names of the bride and groom and their parents but did not give it much thought, as I did not see its relevance. I did not request a copy of the document at first, but our guide, Chris Małczewski, convinced me that it would be a good idea to have it in case I wanted to refer to it later (Chris soon thereafter became the JRI representative in Poland).

That document proved to be absolutely invaluable for my research. Upon closer examination, I realized that Hersz was the younger brother of my great-grandfather Chaim, and his marriage document gave not only the names of his parents, Abram (b. 1803) & Estera Małka (Widawska), but also the name of Abram’s father, another Chajm.

Through further archival research, I found that Henryk Toruńczyk, whom we’d recently met in Warsaw, was descended from Szlama Torończyk (b. 1815), Abram’s younger brother. During our various trips to Poland, we became very close to Henryk and his wife, Grażyna. I continued to research Torończyks/Toruńczyks over the years, but records in Poland were spotty, so my family tree grew, but it had many holes.

In 2012, Ethan Russo was doing research on his Torończyk relatives and contacted Szymon Toruńczyk, son of Henryk and Grażyna, whose name he found online. They referred him to me, and Ethan sent me his family tree. I was fascinated to see that Jay Fialkow, our next door neighbor at the retirement community where we live, was on Ethan’s family tree. Jay’s great-grandmother was Liba Torończyk (b. ca 1865) from Włocławek. Liba never came to the U.S., but many of her descendants did. Ethan was in touch with Barbara Stack, whose great-grandmother, Glicke (b. 1857), whom they believed to be a sister of Liba, did immigrate to the U.S. Try as I might, I could not find out who Liba or Glicke’s parents were on any documents from Poland to see how they might be connected to me.

In 2015, Petje Schroeder, a researcher in Łódź, wrote me that the Ozorków Books of Residents had been digitized, and they listed lots of Torończyks. The books were not yet online, but she could view them in the Łódź Archives. She could not download the scans, but she offered to take photos of them with her iPhone. I asked her to photograph those of my known family. She thus copied a household in which lived Hersz Torończyk (b. 1841), son of Abram and Estera Malka (younger brother of my great-grandfather Chaim). Hersz lived with his wife, Hinda Kajzer, and their five children. This was the same Hersz whose marriage record I had gotten in 1993. The head of house was listed as Icek Torończyk (1801–1878) and his wife as Rojza (Piotrowska). Icek’s parents were identified as Chajm and Etta/Itta (Warska). The parents of my and Henryk’s great-great-grandfathers (Abram & Szlama) were Chajm and Itta. Icek was obviously their brother, and Hersz was living in Ozorków with his uncle. It was exciting to find Icek as another brother of Abram and Szlama.

There were two other younger men living with Icek: another Hersz Torończyk (b. 1836), this one the son of a different Szlama and his wife, Temer, from Zgierz, and a Lajzer Wolf Torończyk born in Żychlin in 1849 (a town my grandmother and her family had lived in). It is not clear whether they all lived together at the same time. Hersz & Hinda left in 1875 and moved to the community of Zieluń, Powiat Mława, Gubernia Płock.” Icek died in 1878. His wife died in 1882. Lajzer left in 1890. Hersz & Kina, formerly from Zgierz, seem to have stayed.

In 2019, Henryk Toruńczyk in Warsaw took a DNA test with Ancestry. He found a match with a John Thorner with whom he and then I corresponded. John knew that he descended from a David Torończyk (who, like Barbara Stack’s relatives, had taken the name Thorner upon arrival in the U.S.), that David’s father was possibly Icek, that David’s first wife was Ruchla, and that after she died, David married Augusta Frenkiel. Ozorków records showed a David Torończyk, son of Icek, born 1828, married to Ruchla Lautenberg. That was a no-brainer. It was clear that this was the same David. John was thus a fourth cousin to both Henryk and me. John had terrific records of most of David’s 19 offspring by his two wives, at least those who came to the U.S., most before 1900. Our family tree grew by leaps and bounds.

Sometime in 2019, I uploaded my DNA to, which permits a comparison of DNA results even if you have been tested by different companies. In 2020, I received a letter from a Brian Thorner, who was a fairly strong match to me. At first glance, I could not see how he was related. Then I noticed that his ancestor Harris/Herman/Hersz Thorner was married to Hattie/Hinda Kaizer or Katz. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered the marriage record of my great-grandfather’s brother Hersz Torończyk with Hinda Kajzer that I had seen in 1993 and the fact that they subsequently lived in Ozorków. What I didn’t know is that in 1892, Hersz and Hinda had come to the U.S. Most of their children had preceeded them. I compared the names of Hersz and Hinda’s five children (Ita, Wolf Chaim, Iosip, Gedalia, Jakób) listed in the Ozorków book to the first five children of Brian’s Harris and Hattie Thorner (Ida, Herman, Joseph, Gustav, and Jacob). There was no doubt. They were the same people. Brian was thus my third cousin once removed, descended from my great-grandfather’s younger brother Hersz. I was surprised that my father had not known that his grandfather had a younger brother in the U.S. Maybe it was because my father’s grandfather had died when my father was still very young.

In 2019, I was contacted by Karen Franklin, a genealogist friend in New York, about a non-Jewish minister, John Corgan, who had just found out that he was one quarter Jewish and was trying to trace his family history. I was one of his DNA matches, but since he did not know any surnames, I did not know how we might be related. Then in 2020, Brian Thorner wrote me that John Corgan was a very close autosomnal match to him and an exact match on the Y-chromosome test. Thus it could be assumed that John Corgan was also a descendant of Hersz Torończyk/Harris Thorner, probably the grandson of Harold, one of Harris’ sons. That would make John my third cousin. We thus added John Corgan to my family tree.

Barbara Stack and I have struggled to figure out her relationship to me, but we had not made much progress until very recently. Barbara had one record that showed that her great-grandmother Glicke father’s name was Meyer, so she was happy to find the index for a death record for a Meier Torończyk in the JRI-Poland records for Płock. She got a copy of  the original record through the LDS Family Library and discovered that Meier left behind a wife, Małka Zylberberg, and three children: Lajzer Wolf, Liba-Chaja, and Glika. Bingo. This not only verified that her great-grandmother Glicke’s father was named Meier but also that Liba and Glicke were indeed sisters.

I was disappointed that Meier’s parents were not listed on the death record, as they usually are in Polish records. I decided to see if I could find out more about Lajzer Wolf to see if that would give a clue to his father’s parents. I could find nothing about Lajzer Wolf in JRI-Poland. I decided to look through some of my other records to see if I had a Lajzer Wolf anywhere. Lo and behold, I found a Lajzer Wolf in the Ozorków Books of Residents, and his parents were none other than Majer Torończyk and Małka Zylberberg, so there was no doubt that it was the right Lajzer Wolf Torończyk. But that wasn’t all. He was living in House #231 with Hersz Torończyk and his wife, Hinda Kajzer. Majer, Lajzer’s father, must have either been Icek Torończyk’s son or, like Hersz, the son of Icek’s brother Abram (my great-great grandfather). Since Barbara is linked by DNA to me and to Brian (who is also a descendant of Abram) and not to John Thorner (whose ancestor is Icek) or Henryk Toruńczyk (whose ancestor is Szlama), we conjecture that Majer must have been the son of Abram. This means that Barbara, Ethan, and Jay, like Brian, are all my third cousins once removed.

Reconstitution of Toronczyk/ Thorner Family

(1) TORUŃCZYK, Chajm (ca 1777 - )   & WARTSKA, Etta/Itta
|               (2) TORUŃCZYK, Abram (3 Feb 1803 - ca 1880)
|               |               (3) TORUŃCZYK, Chaim (13 Jan 1825 - 7 May 1898)
|               |               |               (4) TOROŃCZYK, Fajga (4 Aug 1856 - ? 1928)
|               |               |               |               (5) VOGEL, Joseph Hershel BURSZTAJN* (20 Jun 1890 - 2 Apr 1978)
||              |               |               |               |               (6) VOGEL, Fay Rita (5 Feb 1933 - )
|               |               (3) TORUŃCZYK, Majer (ca 1829 - 1879)
|               |               |               (4) TORUŃCZYK, Lajzer Wolf (16 Apr 1849 - )
|               |               |               (4) TORUNCZYK, Liba Chaja (1865 - ca 1918)
|               |               |               |               (5) BROMBERG, Manja (abt 1885 - )
|               |               |               |               |               (6) MEDOW, Molly (30 Aug 1905 - 21 Aug 1977)
|               |               |               |               |               |               (7) FIALKOW, Jay Lawrence
|               |               |               |               (5) BROMBERG,  Solomon (1891 - 1974)
|               |               |               |               |               (6) BROMBERG,  Mildred (Amelia) (24 May 1925 - 18 Oct 2019)
|               |               |               |               |               |               (7) RUSSO, Ethan Budd (1952 - )
|               |               |               (4) TORUŃCZYK, Gussie (Glika) (1857 - 4 Jun 1926)
|               |               |               |               (5) THORNER, Abraham (1 Mar 1887 - 13 Mar 1941)
|               |               |               |               |               (6) THORNER, Anne (30 Jan 1916 - 24 May 2012)
|               |               |               |               |               |               (7) STACK, Barbara Toby (1947 - )
|               |               (3) THORNER (TOROŃCZYK), Herszek (Harris) (16 Apr 1841 - 26 Jul 1923)
|               |               |               (4) THORNER, Jakób (23 Nov 1870 - 20 Jun 1912)
|               |               |               |               (5) THORNER, Arthur (25 May 1901 - 21 Dec 1978)
|               |               |               |               |               (6) THORNER, Lloyd Harris (6 Jul 1941 - 30 Sep 1988)
|               |               |               |               |               |               (7) THORNER, Brian Richard (1968 - )
|               |               |               (4) THORNER (TORUŃCZYK), Harold* (5 Aug 1872 - 22 Nov 1930)
|               |               |               |               (5) CORGAN, Francis John Henry (13 Sep 1902 - 30 Mar 1984)
|               |               |               |               |               (6) CORGAN, John Andrew Frederick (1948 - )
|               (2) TORUŃCZYK, Icek (1806 - 25 Mar 1878)
|               |               (3) TOROŃCZYK, Dawid* (17 Oct 1828 - 29 Apr 1906)
|               |               |               (4) THORNER (TORUŃCZYK), Sigmund (25 Dec 1894 - 23 Dec 1953)
|               |               |               |               (5) THORNER, Everett David (6 Feb 1919 - Jan 1981)
|               |               |               |               |               (6) THORNER, John Andrew (ca 1952 - )
|               (2) TOROŃCZYK, Szlama (1 Dec 1815 - )
|               |               (3) TORUŃCZYK, Izrael (12 Mar 1846 - 30 Jun 1911)
|               |               |               (4) TORUŃCZYK, Abram (6 Oct 1881 - ca 1942)
|               |               |               |               (5) TORUŃCZYK, Henryk* (8 Feb 1909 - 18 Jan 1966)
|               |               |               |               |               (6) TORUŃCZYK, Adam Henryk (1945 - )

Torończyk/Toruńczyk/Thorner Supporting Documents

under construction zoom in on these images

Descendants of Abram and his son Chaim

Nieszawa Book of Residents. Polish and Russian language.

Nieszawa Book of Residents: Row 2 is Haim Toruńczyk, and it gives his parents as Abram and Estera Małka. Row 4 is Fajga. Underneath her name it is written zamęza Bursztajn, meaning she wed (Noah) Bursztajn (Fay's grandfather). In the note column, it says she went to Brzeziny in 1881 (where her grandfather lived) so it gives an approximate marriage date. It also gives her birthdate 4 Aug 1856 in Żychlin.

Descendants of Abram and his son Majer

1879 Plock Death Meir Torunczyk, Akta 3, img 1298, roll 1733679, FHL Russian language

Signatories Mosen Buka, 60, and Beren Natan, 34 came at 9 a.m. on January 21, 1879 and reported that Maer Torunczyk, 50, died at 1 a.m the day before. Maer's widow is Malka (neé Zilberberg), son Leyzer Wolf, and daughters Liba-Chaya and Glika. Maer is the great-great-grandfather of Barbara Stack, Ethan Russo, and Jay Fialkow.
BTS note: It was Alan K'necht, a cousin researching this family for his rabbi, who brought this document to my attention.

Russian is an inflected language. Most of these names are not in the nominative case. Below you will find transcriptions of the names as they appear in this document.

Миеръ Торунчикъ
Maer Torunczyk

Малку Зильбербергь
Malka neé Zilberberg

Лейзера Вульфа
Leyzer Wolf


Nominative case:        

Лейзер Вульф


Descendants of Abram and his son Hersz

1861 Marriage of Herszek Toruńczyk in Nieszawa. Polish Language

It happened in the town of Nieszawa on the twenty-fourth day of December 1861 at the hour of eleven o'clock in the morning that Moses Toruński, local Rabbi appeared and declared that before him on the previous day at seven o'clock in the evening in the presence of witnesses Abram Bobrownicki, merchant, age fifty-three, and Berek Łowicki, baker, age forty-eight, both living in the Town of Nieszawa, there was a religious marriage entered into between Herszek Abramowicz Toruńczyk, bachelor, age twenty, born in the town of Parzęczew, son of Abram Chajmowicz Toruńczyk and Ester Bine Wolfówna Widawska, supporting themselves in the town of Lipno from trading goods, (he) staying with his parents, and Hinda Moskówna Kayzer, maiden, age twenty-seven, born in the Town of Nieszawa, daughter of Moses Josefowicz Kayzer and Gitel Jozefówna Forduńska, no longer alive, supporting himself in the Town of Niewszawa from trade, (she) staying with her father. This marriage was preceeded by three banns that were announced in the synagogue in the parish of Lipno on the thirtieth of November, the seventh and the fourteenth of December of the current year and in the synagogue in the parish of Nieszawa on the seventh, fourteenth, and twenty-first of December of this year on the day of the Sabbath during the time of the gathering of people for services, no objections to the marriage took place, oral permission of the parents was given, the couple declared that no prenuptial agreement was made. This act was read by us to those presenting themselves and to the witnesses and was signed by those present.

Ozorkow-BoR-231-263 TORONCZYK, Hersz-KAJZER. Russian Language

1. Hersz  2. Hinda Kajzer  3. Itta  4. Wolf  5. Osip (Józef)  6. Gedalja  7. Jakob; Page 2: Lajzer Wolf (Females are on right, males on left)
Hersz Toronczyk is the ancestor of both Brian Thorner and John Corgan. Jakob, born 1870, is the great grandfather of Brian. John's grandfather Harold was born 1872 and does not appear on this document.


Hersz Toronczyk
Гершъ Торончикъ

Jakob Toronczyk
Якобъ Торончикъ

Descendants of Icek

Ozorkow-BoR-14-394 TORONCZYK-LAUTENBERG. Russian Language

Ozorków records showed a David Torończyk, son of Icek, born 1828, married to Ruchla Lautenberg
1. Dawid  2. Ruchla Lautenberg  3. Brandla  4. Arje  5. Czarna  6. Liba  7. Małka  8. Frajda  9. Dwojra. Next page 1. Wolf  2. Szmul
David was the great grandfather of John Andrew Thorner; John's grandfather was David's son Sigmund by his second wife Glicka (Augusta) FRENKIEL.

Descendants of Szlama

Toronczyk, Szlama KL Nieszawa Book of Residents, volume 1, image 208. Polish Language
Szlama is the son of Chaim & Ita and the younger brother of Abram and Icek. Szlama & Brana Gliksman are the great- great-grandparents of Henryk.
Włocławek Book of Residents. Russian language.

Włocławek Book of Residents. Izrael, son of Szlama & Brana Gliksman, and his family. Izrael was Henryk's great-grandfather.
1. Izrael 2. Sura Purman 3. Itta Małka 4. Abram [grandfather of Henryk] 5. Chana. Abram was active in the Bund in Włocławek.